Category: Struggle

Peace Just Today



The world overwhelms
My doubt overcomes
But the weight of Your Glory
Gives me peace
 
The noise of this world
Crowds out Your Whispers
But the nudge of Your Spirit
Guides me still
 
Senseless knowledge
Vain pursuits
Call me to wander
But You hold me still

Where can I go
Always You’re with me
In the darkness of doubt
Your light calls me home

Undignified, unqualified
Unsure of so much
But holding fast
to follow Your will

Your house, I can’t build
In flesh You built mine
Wrapped in humanity
To suffer and die

Risen, redeemed
My doubt overcomes
The help of Your Spirit
The love of Your Son

meditations from 2 Samuel

You are Ruining Your Kids

 

Her hair was slicked back out of her face. Her eyes showed the kind of tired that one night’s sleep wouldn’t make up for. Her tears came as easily as her laughter.

She’d come over to get out of the house with her three kids under four.
“I’m just worried I’m going to ruin my kids!” She said echoing the fears I’ve swallowed back myself. The fear that formed alongside my first daughter and never left. It planted when I first laid eyes on her mustard seed shape. She was a striking white dot of life against the flat black ultrasound screen.

“I give you permission to just survive,” I said, making sure my eyes met hers.
She needed that permission. Permission to breathe—to breathe in the baby smells and soak up the belly laughs. She needed permission to turn off her “perfect parent” switch and just take it all in.

I think we all need this reminder. While I think it’s important—necessary, to be intentional about our parenting, I think it is equally necessary for our souls, for our kids’ souls, to offer them the ministry of presence.

The ministry of presence happens when we stop thinking about how we should parent, we lay down our fears of forming them for the future, we get out of our own analytical heads and we just live life with them…

…we listen to their big questions and don’t provide an easy answer

….we lick ice cream cones with them

…we laugh at ourselves

…we experience emotions in a healthy way–not swallowing them or exploding, but letting our kids see the way we work through the real and necessary emotions of life

…we cry…we laugh…we laugh-cry (it’s totally a real thing just ask my husband)

…we admit when we’re angry, frustrated, exasperated…HANGRY!

…we get dirt and play dough under our fingernails

…we experiment

…we let our kids comfort us
…we let them kiss us a thousand times
…we let them cry on our shoulder without trying to tell them what to think or try to cheer them up.

… we cry with them and ask life’s hard question

I need to slap duck tape over the mouth of the imaginary critic that lives in my head and zoom in, up close, really close to each passing moment with my children. This is scary. It means laying down my plans and my parenting books and letting our messy life unfold in an unpredictable and chaotic way.

But I find that sometimes the best parenting moments happen when I sit on top of a question mark with my girls as we ponder the world– rather than stamping our life with the tidy period that marks things as resolved.

I love a clean house as much as the next person.
I love finished thoughts. I love questions with answers.
I love when a task is as easy as a check mark on a list.

But parenting isn’t any of these things? It’s untidy and unfinished? It cannot be contained in an answer? It is ongoing? (My grammar-check is trying to get me to change these question marks?)

We need to worry about ruining our kids, a little. Just like you’ve got to smell week-old chicken, it’s important to smell our kids to make sure they aren’t spoiled—kidding. But seriously.

But we can’t stay in that place. Once we test our intentions, methods, and goals—once we seek wise advice, and heck yes, once we pray—then we need to roll with it. We need to zoom in and enjoy the messy and complicated reel of parenthood.

Let’s sit on question marks with our kids, ask them our own questions as we figure out life together. Let’s love fiercely and show up with our whole messy selves, trusting that God works in our strengths, but He also works through us in our glorious imperfections.

We will ruin our children (a bit). The Bible reminds us that we’re all cracked pots. But God remakes us and repurposes us. With Him, even our biggest (parenting) mistakes can be repurposed for His greatest good. Amen?

Disclaimer: I am writing this to the parent that is providing love, support, shelter, food, and spiritual guidance to their children but still wrestling with guilt over not being/doing enough. We all agree that our first priority is to be responsible parents that provide for the emotional and physical needs of a child in a supportive and stable home.

Believe it or Not: This Time Will Pass



Dear Reader & Friend,

I’m sorry I haven’t been writing to you. Life has been full with good things and a to-do list that seems to undo itself–a house that seems to unclean itself each week. But you get it. You feel the same way, having trouble finding time to pause, and breathe in God’s goodness; time to think and ponder and dream. I pray you find time for those life-giving activities this weekend. 

I felt a pressing truth I needed to squeeze in a moment to tell you.

THIS TIME WILL PASS

This time will pass of waiting with questions, and answers that are too big for you to wrap your thoughts around.

This time will pass of mind-numbing work, wondering if you’re making a difference.

This time will pass of sleepless nights and foggy days, up round the clock feeding a needy human that pulls the life from your tired body.

This time will pass of tension in your home–thick silence as you wade in the muddy water of hurt and resentment.

This time will pass of sticky kisses, and “Mommy I want you,” and “Hold me.”

This time will pass of aching uncertainty, chest heavy with rocks, minutes passing like gravel through your tender heart.

This time will pass of “honey I’m too tired,” or “let’s sneak away,” like school children stealing a few sacred minutes together.

This time will pass when you feel called to something greater, but tied to something that’s needed. 

This time will pass of arms and legs pulled in every direction, lap always full, your body never your own.

This time will pass of childlike enthusiasm, curious questions, and “just one more” story.

This time will pass of a confusing blur of doctor appointments and medicine, side effects, and charts of numbers to explain your painful reality.

This time will pass of holding hands, and wrinkling your nose as you laugh at an inside joke, looking at each other with certain love, and fragile hope.

This time will pass of feeling breathless from a pain too big to feel at once, and loss too big to ever fill.

This time will pass of hoping and trying, and waiting, and testing–the crush of another negative, the painful push to keep trying.

This time will pass of disappointment, of resentment and hurt, of unmet expectations, and longing…

This time will pass of smallness, of innocence, of dreaming, and planning…

This moment, in its mundaneness, its beauty, its pain, its plainness–it will pass.

It will all come to pass.

So we must rub our sleepy eyes, and pay attention. We must tie our heart to the present, and offer our presence, to show up, to love, and to trust that each moment is writing a beautiful story of redemption and grace, woven into the greatest love story ever written. 

 

 

Rest in HIS ENOUGH

I am with you now.
In the wandering, in the waiting;
when your plans didn’t work out.
When your dreams aren’t coming true.

I’m with you in the uncertain space.
Where there are more questions,
than answers.
Where your fears feel bigger than,
your hope.

I’m with you although you feel all alone,
It might surprise you,
but you aren’t the only one;
that’s longing, searching, praying,
for things that are bigger than you can dream.

Longing for understanding;
searching for meaning;
praying for more.

But in this quiet moment,
As you hush the stirrings deep within you,
Let your heart long for more
than you could ask or imagine,
and yet,
Let your soul rest in His ENOUGH.

Knowing, believing, praying,
that when He says “IT IS FINISHED,”
that means His work in us,
IS JUST BEGINNNING.

And it is very good.

I Fall Short as a Parent…& Why That’s Good

Her face turned on itself, going a shade of red, as globe-like tears slid down her cheeks. Guilt entered and sat on the couch of my conscience, heavy and unmoving like an unwelcome guest. It was too late, the harsh yells had already ripped out of my throat, still burning and bitter in my mouth. But I saw my little girl with the wounded look in her eyes, and forgot my anger like a lost penny.

I opened my arms up and picked up her damp, warm body, her four-year-old frame was swaddled in a towel. I was the reason for her tears, and yet she nuzzled in my neck for comfort and protection.

It had been a long day stuck at home. Our family has been trying to go gluten-free and so my head hurt and I was irritable. More than that, as the girls giggled and splashed, carefree in the bath, I had been reading about the blood bath of another high school shooting in Florida. When Bree resisted getting out of the tub, after my fourth request, I lost my composure. I gave in to my temper, like you give into a donut, a satisfying rush in a moment of weakness.

My vision blurred, and I let out a command that was half growl, half yell, “Get out of the bath NOW!” It wasn’t the words exactly, but the volume and intensity that they came out of my mouth that communicated a level of anger and frustration that I show only in my most unflattering moments.

After our bath time incident, we silently went about the rest of our bedtime routine until it was time to pray together. I couldn’t just act like it didn’t happen. I didn’t know the perfect thing to say, as a mother who found myself acting more like the child. I’ve never been the kind of mom that kept up the pretense that I’m always right or perfect, rather I keep an open dialogue with my girls about how much I have to learn, and how much I mess up; even when it comes to being a mom. So I just let words tumble out, hoping God would season them with grace, like He seasons my salty soul.

“Bree, mommy just talked to you in a way that no one should talk to you. I yelled in a way that I’m ashamed of, and I’m sorry.” 

Having been trained by her dad, how we can extend forgiveness to one another, she uttered in her small person voice.”I forgive you mommy.”

“Thank you. If I get angry and shout like that again, which I probably will, is there a word you can use with me to help me remember this conversation?”

A beat of silence then she answered with resolve, “Please stop, I don’t like it. Its not okay mama.”

“What Bree?”

“I’m practicing. I will tell you to stop mom, and that I don’t like it. Because its not okay when you talk to me like that.”

Her words surprised me, but they also made me proud. I was expecting some small code word, but here it was—she was doing as I asked, telling me that talking to her like that wasn’t okay.

Its not okay. She is an innocent child and her heart is meant to be loved and protected. But yet, in this moment I realized that it is in the small act of being vulnerable, admitting my weakness, that I can let God enter in to do His sacred and unseen work.

I imagine her saying those words when a friend tries to belittle her with shaming words, when a boyfriend tries to touch her in a a way that is violating, when someone treats her in a way that invalidates her, or makes her question her worth.

Parenthood is the way that we model healthy relationship with our children. But, that doesn’t mean a healthy relationship is free of misunderstanding, dissatisfaction, anger, and conflict. Rather, we live out a healthy relationship when we unflinchingly face these challenges, and still show up and love each other. As a mother I’m tempted to shush and silence the inconsistencies and imperfections in my relationship with my daughters, but in the end, I know it feels inauthentic. While small and imperceptible, I know that they ultimately create giant gaps in out closeness to one another.

For me to show up as a mom, I need to show up all the way—flaws, and failings and all. Its in this vulnerability that I trust that God will work good in me and through me. I trust that God will work good, in all the ways He’s made me good, but even more beautiful and unfathomable, is knowing and trusting that He will accomplish good even when I fall terribly short.
Its not okay. Its not okay to trade our pretense of human perfection for His ultimate perfection that is accomplished only when we realize, as parents, as children, as husbands or wives, that we can’t get everything right. Its in this admission that we’re free to be ourselves more authentically, to truly be present and honest, and to let God do the work that only He can do.

Psssst! I’m trying to grow my readership so I can get traditionally published, kind of a major feat these days. So if you like what you’re reading and think others will benefit…it really helps me out if you share with your friends! xo

How to Find Holy in the “Offensively Ordinary”

 

This morning I read about Nadia Bolz-Weber’s story about being stretched to fit a mold of herself she didn’t recognize. A story of how God challenged her to be something she didn’t think she was, in order for Him to use her to reach a people who needed God’s grace–akin to a story many of us know of Jonah going to Nineveh, but not before a struggle.  For Nadia, Nineveh was speaking at a youth conference, when she saw her audience as sarcastic and skeptical adults.

This morning I read her words about an offensively ordinary God, who uses “offensively ordinary things,” to reveal Himself to us. Yes, Nadia and I agree “that this God has never made sense.” But even more, I love how she reminds me what this means for me too:

“And you don’t need to either, because this God will use you, this God will use all of you, and not just your strengths, but you failure and your failings. Your weakness is fertile ground for a forgiving God to make something new and to make something beautiful, so don’t think all you have to offer are gifts” (Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, pg 38)

This leads me to ask myself (and God), “Why aren’t you stretching me like this God?” because, if I’m honest I feel a little bored with my life. My stay-at-home mom existence certainly doesn’t look like Nadia’s challenge of speaking to thousands of difficult teenagers. For a minute, I stubbornly challenge God, “You aren’t stretching and challenging me to do great things God.” Then my mind returns to my own life challenges–I notice the sag of my tired body, kept up all night by a nursing toddler gymnast. I release a guttural noise, a confused half-breed of a cry and a laugh. In this ripe place of pain and uncertainty, of fatigue and resignation, God challenges me to be present in the places I don’t want to be either. In such a time as this, God is stretching me, my ego, my assumptions, and my patience. 

My older daughter, Bree, really wants to share a room with Elyse. She doesn’t think its fair that the three of us, and the dog, pile into our queen sized bed, while she sleeps alone in her room. Every night we pray together, “God please help Elyse to wean and start sleeping through the night so she can share a room with Bree.” 

I believe that there is power in prayer. I believe that prayer unlocks a Heavenly shift in our earthly reality. But this doesn’t mean it shifts in the way that we envision. God is moving in my present circumstances of nursing all night, and bed-sharing. He’s moving somehow in and through my sleep deprived body and is present in my addled thoughts and resentful reality. I had to chuckle when one morning Bree shared her dream with me. She dreamt God was raining down milk on the Israelites. They were drinking the milk until they turned into ghosts. I wish I had a Joseph to make earthly sense of what this dream could mean.

“Maybe Elyse will just nurse for her entire life?” Bree asked, smiling brightly.

“Lord help us!” I said with thick sarcasm and exasperation.

“Amen,” she responded with passion and enthusiasm.

I don’t have any qualms about a mom that wants to nurse her 28-month-old toddler through the night. Power to you sister. But I was never going to be “that mom.” No, for me, my cute baby would be healthy and ordinary (tongue in cheek). My cute baby would wean at the appropriate time–and sleep through the night too. I believe every mother should choose the path of motherhood, feeding, sleeping, nurturing, that works best for the whole family. I believe that in a theoretical way, like, “you do whatever works for you.” But for me, I’d rather not challenge the mothering norms. Yes, in my mind, nursing my 28-month-old and co-sleeping, challenges my own assumptions of what my mothering journey should look like. As my reality scrapes against my ideals, I see God using “offensively ordinary” things to challenge who I think I am.

In the past I’ve seen the things that others see as “shameful,” as opportunities to connect and stand in the light. This morning as I wrestle with my messy and imperfect reality, I want to hide it. I want to pretend my mothering journey is all the things beautiful and “normal” that fit squarely into a photo on Instagram. But then I feel God nudging me, whispering to me that this is where he wants me to stand in His light.

So here I stand. I stand here in this area that feels grey. I feel the thick seeping darkness beckoning me, to hide in the shadows. I’ve started thinking how I can hide from my friends the fact that I’m still nursing, because I feel embarrassed at this point. I feel like I’ve failed to help my daughter reach the next milestone. But for some reason, like Nadia, God is challenging me to stand in the bright lights, on an unfamiliar stage, to use my shame and weakness to usher in His love and grace. I really want my challenge to look much more glamorous, like speaking in front of thousands of sarcastic teens. But my audience is through this little blog, lit up on computers of stay-at-home moms, working moms, grandmas, dads, and grandpas, old friends, and new ones I haven’t met yet. My prayer is in this messy reality God stirs the contradictions and doubts in your mind. That God can use your “offensively ordinary” circumstances to move mountains that you don’t even know are there.

Every Day Christmas

As a kid on Christmas morning, I would gaze at the pile of papered packages beneath the tree, searching for the big one—with my name on it. Biggest was best, of course, and so I would spot it, pick up the oversized gift with my child size body, and place it at my parents’ feet. I perched and pleaded for my turn to unwrap the promise contained within the bright and festive Christmas paper.

Our first year in Orange, I learned that St. John’s does “big,” well at Christmas time too. Big crowds pack in to worship within an ornately decorated sanctuary, aglow with strings of lights and candles, colored by brilliant stained glass windows, and humming with breathtaking music. St. John’s also does big outreach events for the holidays, things like hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas for kinship families, Project 23, and Operation Christmas Child. I love all these things, and more, about my church.

When I first came to St. John’s, I just stood in awe, taking it all in— all the vibrant ministries, all the worship opportunities, all the talent and history. I came from a small church, where I was the big fish, and at our new church, I wasn’t sure of where I fit in.

But like a God who would send an infant to a manger in Bethlehem, to make his grand appearance, I found my place at St. John’s enfolded in the humble and gracious fabric of its people.

On Ash Wednesday this year, we received word that our daughter, Elyse, had a rare auto-immune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. It quickly spiraled, and a week later, Nathan and I cradled our 18-month old in the hospital, so weak she couldn’t walk or lift her head.

By God’s grace and provision we were able to get back on our feet, and with treatment, Elyse has been doing remarkably better. But, on Mother’s Day, a pipe burst in our bathroom, leaving our family of four displaced from our home for three months.

I thought I would find my place at St. John’s on a platform, but little did I know I would find it within the space of my greatest vulnerability and need.

It was in these circumstances I experienced St. John’s story through eye to eye relationships, through humble and heartfelt generosity, and the love that spills into the cracks of ache, like a trickle from the altar.

In my deepest pain I encountered the sweetest mercy, through loving home cooked meals that tasted like grace. The Haiducs can make a mean lasagna. One day a box of “busy bags” showed up from an army of St. John’s moms, with toys and crafts that lifted Bree’s spirits and kept her busy, and scraps of Bible verses to keep me going. One day a bouquet of dandelions and ingredients for smoothies was dropped on our doorstep. A check arrived in the mail to meet the amount due for an overdue hospital bill. The Friendship Quilters made a quilt sewn and tied with hope and prayer for our Elyse.

I shared on Facebook one day that Elyse’s sun sensitivity had gotten worse, and two days later, someone showed up with a princess parasol for her. While the teachers at St. John’s gathered hand drawn Bible verses and other inspiration in a book, for our family. Classes of kids drew cards of encouragement, and bowed their heads in countless prayers for a baby girl they knew only from pictures.

When our house filled with water, St John’s families showed up with towels, and buckets, strong arms, and hot boxes of pizza. As we tried to get our house ready to move back in, two high school students from church, volunteered to watch our girls, as a St. John’s life group of 6 people arrived in work clothes, to vacuum, mop, and organize.

I love big gifts. This year I’m thinking about getting my girls a Barbie doll house to unwrap on Christmas day (Shhh! Don’t tell!). I love sitting in a magnificent, century old church, and feeling small, as I join my voice with an overwhelming chorus of worship. But lately, God is helping me to appreciate small gifts too. He’s giving me eyes to see the small gifts of handmade love and outstretched hearts that tell the story of St. John’s through community, and relationships.

I think thats the story God was teaching us with Christmas too. Instead of a big platform, God sent his son in the helpless package of soft, baby flesh—displayed for shepherds to worship in a wooden manger surrounded by livestock. Immanuel, God-with-us, came to Earth completely dependent on relationships, for a mother to love and nurture, and a Father to guide. Jesus began his ministry by becoming close friends with twelve other men, by touching, by healing, and by serving people.

Tonight I’m grateful for my baby Elyse. I’m grateful for every smile, for every step she takes, and when she twirls, I watch in awe. I’m grateful that God uses babies to remind us of who He is. I’m grateful that, through her, God has taught us what St. John’s is all about—God sized love—in human packages.

So I guess this Christmas, the question I’m left with, is how do I continue the story?

Create Your Own Sunshine

 

 
 
SHADOW GIRL
One day the sun will kiss your face
One day your body will not ache,
A day you won’t need to run away,
Yes, there will be a day.
A day you stand in the light,
A day you will chase the sun,
A day when all will be made right,
A day we’ll stand in the light of the son.

I met my close mom friend for coffee. My two-year-old daughter was in tow, and her eighteen-month-old son was her debonair date. We rioted the local hipster coffee shop, our toddlers climbing on the benches and shouting, as we collected skeptical glances from the Chapman University students with their laptops, sipping macchiatos and balancing oversized spectacles on their baby faces. The entire cafe let out an exhale as we got our coffee to-go, herding our rambunctious kids outside along with our oversized strollers. It was a cloudy morning, which meant I could actually enjoy a casual stroll outside—like a normal mom and her normal little girl.

My daughter has a condition that means she cannot be in direct sunlight. Even with the cover of clouds, we have to protect her from too much UV exposure. We use hats, UV clothes, sunscreen, and parasols, but when she is having a flare up—even all of those precautions don’t always prevent her from getting a painful rash on her face, elbows, hands, and knees.

But this Fall day, we felt normal, walking beneath the protection of clouds, we felt free from the burden of hiding. My friend and I talked freely. The kids chased each other. Smiles were contagious and laughter came easily.

A couple hours later the sun peaked out, reminding us our precious morning was ending. I put my daughter in her car seat, and decided to drive around the down town area so that she’d fall asleep. As I began our drive, my daughter complained that her fingers were hurting. Our morning outside was having its effect. As my daughter quieted down and gently gave in to sleep, I let my mind wander to the sad thoughts I usually avoid. My daughter would never feel the warmth of the sun on her face, without it hurting her. The realization stung more than usual. Tears blurred my vision, and I blinked to let them roll boldly down my cheeks.

I paused my car at a stop sign, and looked up to see a white church sign with big block letters. “CREATE YOUR OWN SUNSHINE,” it read. The intersection was empty, so I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture. I knew it was a photo I would treasure, a story I would tell my daughter about one day.

In life we will all face limitations. Whether its the form of disabilities or disease, mental illness, grief, or the eventual effects of age—life eventually presents struggle—seen and unseen, that influence our every day lives. Sometimes we are born with our limitations, sometimes they show up and surprise us one day in a diagnosis. Whether its something we’ve lived with for a lifetime, or a new normal, there will be days when the loss will surprise us with a sharp new pain. As we live day by day, hour by hour, our limitations present themselves in new challenges that we don’t always anticipate. Sometimes its the same old challenges that suddenly wear a hole in our hearts like the toe of an old sock.

Our greatest fears and vulnerability loom beneath the surface of our imagination like a monster under the bed, making us want to run and hide—or hang our head in shame.

But when we face the limitations forced on us by a world we can’t control, we can stop, and look up and see the challenge of each new day: “CREATE YOUR OWN SUNSHINE.”

Pain and suffering leave gaping holes in our hearts and lives. Our limitations will taunt, accuse, and challenge us to believe that we aren’t whole. But maybe those holes can be the place where God plants the seeds of sunshine.

The sun rises each new day. The son rose after three days of darkness. When this life weighs down on us with its demands and limitations, when we feel like we have to hide in the shadows, or feel too weary to get out of bed, we can look up and see the Son.

The Son takes our weakness and shame and makes us whole—the Son shines hope into this dark world. We hold out His grace in our tired hands, like the shining sun that lights us up, from the inside out; and in his hope and promises, we can “CREATE OUR OWN SUNSHINE.” A little light that promises hope in hurt, a grace shaped love that keeps our hearts beating for more.

 

 

Can We Stop and Sit Together?

This morning I sit, like a fixed point in the center of a storm of distraction. My house is messy, I still have a project due, and my girls have been watching a show–maybe longer than they should. But my heart feels full of so many things I want to share with you. I wish time and kids would allow for me to sit and savor conversation with you over hot coffee that grows cold, because there’s too much to say between us.

Lately I’ve felt tired. In this marathon of life we’re on, I feel like we’re in a season of endurance. Our fight against Elyse’s JDM isn’t following the easy arc we hoped it would, we’re back in our house and yet so much is left undone.

I’m not naive to think we’re alone in these struggles. Everyone has some sort of battle they face on a daily basis, whether its cancer, rebuilding a home that was disassembled by flood and fire, or fighting back the darkness of anxiety and depression. Maybe its just overcoming the small annoyances life throws at you, like to do lists that never seem to get done, or small disappointments that add up, and grow burdensome, like the loose change in your wallet.

Sometimes the biggest struggle we face is isolation and weariness–the feeling like there’s too much to do and we’re doing it alone. Sometimes we feel like nobody sees how much work we’re putting in. Sometimes we just wonder if anybody sees us, if they really care.

If we were having coffee, I would put my hand over yours, I would look into your eyes and tell you: I care. Others care too. I just think that our culture has become so bogged down with performance, that we’re all battling this fog of busyness, the fog of being seen, but never really feeling fully known., 

Maybe this isn’t you. If it isn’t, that means you need to pull others out of the fog. Take them to lunch, listen to them, and encourage them.

We all have the weapon to fight back the fog, and it is love. Love quiets the raging voices, love calms choppy waves of uncertainty, love transforms gnarled nail shaped wounds into marks of sacrifice and forgiveness. 

If you’ve forgotten how to love well, if you’re feeling too alone or weary, I invite you to visit your local classroom. Its a place you may have to kneel, ask questions, get messy; but in this place you will forget yourself enough to let joy overtake you. Are you ready to hear where it is?

Its in the park, with wood chips in your shoes and dirt under your nails. Its in a classroom that smells of syrup and play dough. Its on the floor with toys strewn around you, and gleeful screams in your ears. Surround yourself with children, and let them remind you that life is about reckless abandon, its about reckless love. Because a child’s love breaks through the walls of isolation and apathy.

I get lonely. I feel like everyone knows who I am, but few people know me. It feels like too much work sometimes to invest in friendships when my life takes so much work as it is. But when I need to feel known, when I need to take a break from the pressure to perform, I get on my hands and my knees and let my daughters climb all over me. They knock down all the walls I’ve been putting up around my heart, and remind me that love is easy, if I just let it in. Love is loud, and messy. Its hands on. Love shows up and knocks people over and disarms them with tender grace.

So when the world feels like a confusing place. When we feel alone and unknown, lets love like we dance when no one is watching. It means throwing open our arms, closing our eyes, finding the joyful rhythm, and throwing ourselves in. God will always catch us. 

There’s an awkward silence between us now. Tears in our eyes. We both feel like we’ve been a little too vulnerable. We stand up, we hug each other–the kind of real hug, where we really hold on and squeeze our arms tight. We look at each other and smile, then head for the door–ready to keep plodding forward, ready to face the day knowing that we’re not alone.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

“Dear Future Husband”: I Have Anxiety

The catchy tune by Meghan Trainor, “Dear Future Husband,” is a favorite in my house. Since Alexa understands my 4-year-old daughter’s voice commands, she can listen to it until her heart’s content, until mommy pulls the plug.

Its a cute song with a good beat. I’m grateful my girls are too young to understand all the lyrics of course, but overall the message is sweet, but maybe lacking a little depth. No problem Meghan, I get it, “Dear Future Husband: I have Anxiety,” wouldn’t have the same hook.

I’ve been married for almost 8 years. Like every marriage, we’ve had our ups and downs. And while I have absolutely no regrets, about my husband, or the journey we’ve taken together, I can share with you the kind of open, honest conversation I wish I’d had with my man before we tied the knot.

Dear Future Husband,
You say you love me deeply. I’m guessing I probably seem perfect to you right now. Love has a way of doing that. But I’m not perfect. I have anxiety. I’ve come to accept it. Its something about myself that I’ve actually come to appreciate, but I need you to be okay with it too.

Not just the “okay, its annoying but I can put up with it, okay“— because that kind okay won’t carry us through a lifetime. I mean the okay that holds my hand when I can’t breathe, the okay that brings me icepacks for tension migraines, the okay that holds us together through perinatal depression, the okay that understands that our life will look a little different.

If hearing this makes you want to run, then run. I don’t want a man that scares easily. I need a man that fights for me, when darkness threatens to overtake my mind. I need a man that digs in his heels and challenges me to be the person he knows I’m capable of being. I need someone who will pull the covers off my head and kick me out of bed, someone who will make me go outside for fresh air, or make breakfast burritos at midnight. I need someone that will cradle me when my fears feel bigger than my fight.

But before you think this is one sided, wait. If you’re willing to accept me and all my complications, you will get to see the gifts behind my struggle too. I promise you deep empathy and compassion. I promise that when you say “I’m fine,” I will look into your eyes and know the truth. I will feel more deeply, in the hard times and the good. I will love you more than you thought possible.

We are all broken in our own ways. I will stand beside you in your broken moments, and won’t look away. I know what it feels like to feel small, to question yourself, to feel like maybe you weren’t assembled right. But I’m beginning to learn that in the brokenness, we can find the most strength. We turn to God that supplies our strength–Who offers an endless supply of love.

Love can bind up our wounds, love can make us strong together, love can heal us. I believe this like I believe in the sun. But I know that love means a lot of pain, and hard work, and commitment too.

If you’re all in, if you want all of me, anxiety and all, then I know that our life will also be filled with the sweet and simple things too. We will have candlelit pizza dinners, movie nights with popcorn (no butter), and silly inside jokes. We will laugh until we cry, and pick the grey hairs out of each others eye brows. If you say “I do,” know that its yes to all of me, anxiety and all.